One look at the image below, and at a glance, it might appear to be something a digital artist created. It’s an actual image of the Milky Way, the galaxy we live in, created by a Finnish astrophotographer named J-P Metsavainio. The single image of the Milky Way is 1.7 gigapixels and what you see below is only a portion of it.
The entire image can be seen here, and it’s worth a look. As for why it took over a decade to make the image, the digital artist says the size of the mosaic and the fact that it’s very deep contributed. Since the section of the sky he photographed is so massive, most of it was shot as individual frame compositions and previously published as independent artworks.
Metsavainio also said that some of the objects in the Milky Way required more exposure than others because they appeared dimmer and were harder to see. One example he gives is a single supernova remnant that took over 60 exposure hours. There are some incredible images of various celestial objects in the Milky Way, including the California Nebula, Pelican Nebula, and Wizard Nebula, among others.
It’s incredibly impressive that a photographer with equipment available to most people could take such incredibly detailed images. Metsavainio has a website where he shows off some of the individual images in the larger overall compositions.
Some of the images show off individual shots and panels that were used to make up the single larger image. The finished panel is so highly detailed it looks like something NASA would’ve taken using the Hubble Space Telescope.